“I do not write to please reviewers. Writing to me is fundamentally a private act and a form of meditation in words. I think about the characters that I make up and their lives. Nobody is listening, but me. When the book comes out and people read it, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
I would like to know whether these writers would be content to sit and meditate on words, create characters, listen to them and then go back to sleep. Why do they have agents? Why do they get publishers? Why do they do the rounds of book readings and marketing their product?
A writer who is on the bestseller list must not even feel the need to say she is not writing to please reviewers. No one does. Some may ‘buy’ reviewers (and please don’t tell me it does not happen). But the writing is done alone.
It would be foolish to assume that this is where it will end for a professional writer.
Even people who have just begun wish to be read or heard.
“I am not an activist...A writer hones his or her language, makes it clear and private and individual as possible. And then you look around and see what’s happening to millions of people. You find yourself in the heart of the crowd, saying things that millions of people are saying and it’s not private and individual any more.”
No, it is not. It was never meant to be.
If it is the label that is bothersome, then ‘writer’ too is a label. Junk it. Call yourself something else –a language shaper, a thought artist…
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On another note…
Am reminded of that episode some years ago when an academician had said he liked my perspective.
“When you visit Bombay I shall take you to the places that honed my perspective,” I wrote back.
Several weeks later he did arrive and I took him around. Upon returning I got a note from him: “Thank you for the wonderful time. It seems that food has honed your perspective; you took me to all the restaurants in town!”
On another occasion at the lawn of an institute in Delhi, the professor leafed through some of my writings that he had with him.
“I don’t know. You are angry, you are sad, you are thoughtful, you are precocious…where do I place you?”
“Nowhere. I don’t have a speciality, a niche.”
And that is how it shall always be. The process of others reading is not “a tip of the iceberg” for me. I may confine myself to a vast expanse where it is difficult to find me, but I do know that some cold hearts do get thawed when they read me. Some need to unread, re-read…and weed out…but I am not writing for myself alone. I am writing with myself in it. The words and I soaking each other. Squish the sponge and you will get both of us.